The role of audio in a film viewing experience is quite remarkable in the present era. Despite the visual side of filmmaking captivating our instincts, it is different from when accompanied by a robust cinematic sound design. That’s why silent movies are not the crème-del-crème of the filming industry.
Since time immemorial, sound has been precious for various social interactions. Even in religious practices, the sound is useful for recreation, praising, recreation and worship.
So, why is sound such an integral part of video production?
Sound has tremendous power when used in the storytelling process: it aids in invoking emotion to the audience, reflecting the mood of the presentation while underscoring the actions in dance and plays. Hence, sound helps transport the listener into a vortex of the performance, making it an unforgettable experience.
What is Sound Design?
In most cases, sound design involves manipulating previously recorded or composed audio, such as sound and music effects. Other times, it comprises the composition of audio to create a desired mood or effect.
The sound design process is applicable in a myriad of disciplines such as:
- Live performance
- Television production
- Sound recording and reproduction
- Musical instrument development
- sound art
- video game development
Therefore, sound design, in general, is the process of acquiring, generating, recording, or manipulating audio elements.
What does a sound designer do?
A sound designer is an expert who creates sound effects (SFX) using both their artistic and technological skills. These experts need to constantly develop their techniques and know-how in mixing and recording special effects if they want to stay on top of creating unheard SFX sounds.
A sound designer’s work begins by diligently studying the script then gathering as much intel as possible about any music or sound. Sometimes, they’ll need to meet with the client, who might be the design team or the director, to understand the production concept better.
Other times, the client has a pre-determined idea of the music or sound effect for the production process. Thus, they might require the sound designer to avail themselves in rehearsals and assist in developing effects or music that fits into specific production contexts.
Apart from work mentioned above, sound designers may need to:
- work with a professional composer to make original music
- choose and edit the sound effects, even remixing the music
- make an acoustic adjustment to the set, such as configuring float mics for the performers
- create abstract but naturistic worlds of film ambiances using sonic textures, sound effects, and an immersive atmosphere
- aid in connecting a dramatic connection of the audience’s emotion with the performance
Success in the professional sound design industry requires one to have a wide array of creative skills such as:
- comprehensive know-how of the genre and musical history
- having a musician sensitivity to melody, timbre, rhythm, melodic structure, and overall harmony
- an excellent understanding of psychoacoustics.
Moreover, the professional must have technical skills like acoustics, different audio software, computer integration and networking, system engineering, and sophisticated audio.
In a rapid world of technological development, adaptability is vital.
What are the Key Elements of sound design for film?
Having discussed what sound design is and the work of a sound engineer, let’s now learn about the critical elements of sound design for film.
In general, there are five main elements when it comes to sound design. They include:
- Audio Effects (SFX)
- Foley Sounds
Let us dig into what each element entails, shall we?
i. Sound/Audio Effects (SFX)
These are types of sounds that are hard to create naturally in the real world. Therefore, it is almost impossible to record the SFX using a microphone.
Other times, the SFX helps portray the intensity of activity on set even if it does not match the actions done by the characters at that point. Thus, sound effects help provide a sense of realism to the acted scene.
For example, you can use SFX to create the sound of an airplane passing overhead amid a battle scene without showing the machines themselves. The sound depicts the intensity of the battle in the minds of the audience.
This element is essentially background noise that aids in immersing the viewer(s) into the scene’s action. Therefore, the noise needs to be both descriptive and informative about the action taking place.
However, the sound shouldn’t distract nor overwhelm the audience that it takes their concentration on the action at hand.
For example, if the scene is on a beach, there should be a whooshing of the wind with the occasional sound of waves coming towards land.
iii. Foley Sounds
Foley sounds are sound effects designed to synchronize and match with the actions of characters currently on set. These adaptations help make the action as realistic as possible to the viewer.
For instance, the sound of radio operating in the distance as a character enters a room. It can also be the sound of vehicles passing outside the house.
Foley sounds are easily recordable with a real microphone. They are featured in animation and motion design, plus other feature films.
Some videos tend to have a narrator who walks the audience through what is happening on screen. Rarely is the storyteller seen, but they help highlight key moments while playing a pivotal role in guiding the viewers through the action
Dialogues help bring forth the story as it shows the interaction and communication of characters in the act. Even though the conversation is obtained from the script, there is more to just recording a character’s speech.
There are two ways of recording the dialogue. One is the use of professional audio recording equipment in the set, such as boom mics. The other way is re-recording in a controlled environment by bringing the actors to the studio to eliminate unnecessary recording noises from outside.
Music is an essential tool in sound design. It helps in setting the dynamics of mood conveyed throughout the film.
Remember, not every sound design will require all these six elements.
Balancing is critical when it comes to sound design.
Hire a Sound Designer
Getting to balance the above elements for your sound design project is not a walk in the park. It will require dedication plus a lot of trial and errors to make it right. This can be pretty frustrating, especially when you don’t have enough time to dedicate yourself fully to the task.
So why go through the stress of doing all the work alone when you can outsource the work to a competent sound designer?
Visit freelancing sites like Bunny Studio and hire a designer for your sound production needs.
There is more information below on the essentials of becoming a sound plus tips of achieving competency in the skill for those who prefer the DIY route.
The Essential of Becoming a Sound Designer
a) Practical knowledge of Music
Familiarity with a variety of music genres is essential because music is a core component of sound design.
You should ensure that you are familiar with the various sound libraries while having the benchmark examples of sound design.
b) Education in Sound Design
The education can be informal or formal. However, combining theory with an apprenticeship is the best way to go.
c) Technical Skills
In the 21st century and especially its second decade, most services have gone digital: sound effects are no exception.
Therefore, having a deep understanding of sound recording programs like QLab, Pro Tools, Garageband, plus many more, is vital.
d) Creative Drive
Just like any artistic occupation, having a creative drive is critical. This profession can be demanding, even requiring a willingness to work for long hours.
If you want to become a sound design just for the pay, it will be detrimental to you because you will experience job burnout.
e) Excellent Communication Skills
As stated earlier, the sound design process involves the collaboration of various shareholders to make the production a success. Thus, having clear-cut communication across the people involved is essential in ensuring the production process is as smooth as possible.
Tips to Being a Sound Designer
Like most career choices, becoming a sound designer is a journey that requires making the initiative to follow through until you become a professional. So, whatever opportunity arises of gaining real-world experience, please take it as it will help grow your career choice.
Below are a few tips for pounding on when starting as a sound engineer:
1. Start small
Succeeding in any endeavor, however big it is, usually requires taking one small step at a time. The same applies to sound design which has many types of jobs in the entertainment industry. It is, therefore, no surprise that the career path of many designers starts modestly.
For example, they can be involved in community theater or be a sound engineer on a low-budget film.
It is incredible how this tip tends to cut through even in everyday life.
2. Get involved in Freelancing
Freelancing, being a gig economy, is one of the best outcomes of technology’s exponential growth, especially with the economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This gig economy is proving to be a buffer zone for many who would have lost otherwise lost their physical jobs in 2020.
Here is a more comprehensive article that examines the state of freelancing.
3. Expand and Improve your Skillset Continuously
Technology is changing rapidly than we can keep up with. Nevertheless, being adaptable is the key to surviving in any work environment.
Therefore, it is critical to continuously develop your skill set in the related aspects of live audio production, filmmaking, post production, and many more.
4. Have patience
There is a general belief that mastering any skills requires over 10,000 hours of work: it is no different for sound design.
Remember, succeeding in any career choice will require a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication of your time to gain years of experience.
The sound design uses both the cognitive and skillful aspects to create a mental immersion that improves the video viewing experience.
Don’t fuss about not producing a sound design that fits perfectly with your video production. Head over to the Bunny Studio website and hire a competent sound designer for your project today.